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Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducts raids across U.S.

In a recent post we discussed President Trump's executive order targeting undocumented immigrants and resetting immigration enforcement priorities within the United States. It didn't take long for U.S. immigration authorities to start taking action on the directive. Earlier this month, federal agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a series of raids on immigrant communities in a number of states, including Florida.

In his executive order, Trump ended President Obama's policy of prioritizing for deportation those with criminal convictions. Under Trump's order, the Department of Homeland Security is directed to also target people with no criminal convictions, including people charged with, but not convicted of, minor offenses; and people federal authorities determine have committed an offense, even if they have never been arrested.

The DHS admits that raids were conducted this month in North and South Carolina, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. But immigration activists reported the raids went beyond these six locations. They say they have documented unusually aggressive raids in Florida, Virginia, Texas and Kansas.

Not surprisingly, the raids have created a wave of fear and panic in immigrant communities nationwide. A city council member in Austin, Texas, reported that some students didn't come to school because they were afraid of being detained and deported by ICE. Some activists believe Trump is intentionally stirring up fear in order to encourage undocumented immigrants to "self-deport."

Immigrants who do not have legal status need to understand their rights. It is important to seek out trustworthy information and avoid acting on the basis of rumors. Contacting a local immigrant rights organization, or an experienced immigration law firm, would be a good idea for anyone concerned about being swept up in the current crackdown.

Source: Washington Post, "Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states," Lisa Rein, Abigail Hauslohner & Sandhya Somashekhar, Feb. 11, 2017

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